Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ontario Green Party Still Best for Environment Overall?

In my last blog post, I said that I supported many parts of the Green Party of Ontario platform, but I was critical of one of their central themes, shifting taxes from income to carbon. Today, a coalition of major environmental groups has, in effect, given the Green Party the highest overall score on a large number of environmental issues. The NDP were very close behind, though. And the Liberals were a close third -- but the Tories (er, Progressive, ahem, Conservatives) were so far behind that they barely even registered (Toronto Star story -- original coalition report).

The coalition unfortunately did not seem to ask about many economic policies that relate to environmental issues. What about pollution taxes, cap-and-trade, road subsidies and support for car-makers? Among other things, the report did nothing to reduce my unease with the Green Party's carbon tax plan.

Still, it's great to see that three out of the four parties are moving so close to the green side of many issues. The Green Party can probably take credit for keeping the topic on the agenda and goading other parties along. But this means that Ontario voters who care about the environment can now put more weight on other factors. I would still suggest looking at the parties' general social and economic policies.

[UPDATE September 28, 2007: speaking of social policies, I agree with Michelle Mann's view that on the issue of school funding,
"...the only party that has it right is the Greens, whose leader, Frank de Jong, supports moving to one publicly-funded school system."
Mann says that this would be constitutional, as proven by Manitoba, Newfoundland and Quebec. (See the above link for the legal mechanism.)

Sure fixing the general school funding formula is important, as the NDP's Howard Hampton keeps saying, but why waste any of of the added funds on duplication of services? Mann suggests that removing the duplication would save a lot of money that
"...could be directed to funding for autistic students, accessible post-secondary education and revitalizing a flailing public education system."
I would add that there could also be more funds for environmental education and energy-efficiency school retrofits.

Deciding which party to support is not easy, given the sheer number of issues and policy options on offer. That's another reason why I would love to have MMP. With two votes, one for local/party candidate, and one for party list, I could express my wishes views more accurately. I could in effect support two parties if both of them have good ideas.]

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